Why criticism of religion is important in contemporary Africa

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religionBy Leo Igwe

Criticizing religion is urgently needed in today’s world particularly in Africa because it is in this region that the negative effects of religious dogmatism and absolutism are so glaring. In fact it has become a moral and intellectual duty for all free and open minds to highlight and expose through writing, cartoons, drama, music and comedy shows the absurdities, misconceptions, falsehoods and illusions of religion. First of all, religion is a human phenomenon and nothing human is – and should be beyond criticism. Criticizing religion is important because it is a human right that has long been ignored and has long been denied. It is a power and entitlement the exercise of which is important for human happiness and human flourishing.

Unfortunately, one of the greatest tragedies in human history is that human beings created ideas – religious ideas – and then made it a crime, a forbidden act, for others to question them. Human beings have placed a heavy price on critical examination of religious and superstitious beliefs particularly Islam thereby perpetuating these ideas with all their limitations and shortcomings.

The situation in Africa is quiet disturbing because the continent has a triple religious heritage – traditional, Christian and Islamic and these layers of dogma and absolutism make critical examination of faith claims more challenging, and yes, more urgent and compelling.

The three faiths make conflicting and contradictory claims about this life and what happens after death, about what is right and wrong, what is true and what is false, what is allowed or forbidden, what is good or bad, what is fact or fiction, what is myth or reality. They peddle counter intuitive notions like virgin birth, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the divine revelation of the Koran, the ascent into heaven of Muhammad on a flaming horse, the existence of paradise and Hell fire, the existence of ancestors, spirits and gods that intervene in nature etc. Many Africans grow up confused, not knowing which religion is true and which is false, if any at all, which faith or philosophy is a suitable moral guide in this 21st century. Africans grow up with their minds enchanted, beclouded and not understanding clearly what to believe and what not to believe, not comprehending how to distinguish facts from fantasy.

Critical evaluation of religious teaching is important for the intellectual emancipation and enlightenment of Africans. Exposing the illogics and gaps in religious thinking – the contradictions in its conception of life and nature, needling the balloon of otherworldly faiths will free the minds and morals of Africans from the grip of superstition and fundamentalism. Due to lack of critical thinking, many Africans are embracing religious extremism and are being indoctrinated into thinking that killing others in the name of their god, prophet and religion is a demonstration of faith and a mark of religious virtue.

They do not know that God is an imaginary being and that the so called prophets are historical entities who are dead and gone or mythical figures who never existed in time and space.

Religious promises of paradise, divine judgment and reward in an afterlife are driving Africans to commit atrocities because many people across Africa think that religious promises are true. African Christians and muslims are really working and hoping to inherit paradise as promised in the Bible and the Koran. Sadly, they are mistaken and we need criticism of religion to foreground the erroneous propositions of faith systems and awaken Africans from their religious slumber. Criticism of religion will help disabuse the minds of Africans of religious illusions and delusions and dissuade them from religious credulousness and extremism. Religion is a potent force in human culture and society, and without criticism it will become a treacherous weapon, a lethal, vicious and potentially dangerous agent. We have witnessed how the destructive force of religious extremism is raging and ravaging different parts of Africa and the world today. We need criticism of religion to counter the narratives of religious extremism and exploitation. So to all Africans I say “Criticize every religion – all religions. Spare no faith, god, prophet or holy book no matter how exalted or revered. Expose their erroneous assumptions, absurd claims and misconceptions. Demand evidence for religious claims even at the risk of causing offence. African enlightenment will not be achieved without offending the sensibilities of those who have vested interest in the religious status quo, in African ‘endarkenment’. Question all religious dogmas because dogmatization is a cover, a way of preserving and perpetuating error and falsehood. Seek the truth. Ignite the flame of rational inquiry and rid this continent of dark and destructive forces of superstition and unreason.

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13 Responses to Why criticism of religion is important in contemporary Africa

  1. Me just ukudabwa bakalemba aba.
    Yes question more.
    But as for the reality about Christianity commit yourself to prayers and fasting.
    Jesus is alive. Want to know this?
    – pray to be forgiven your sins in the name of Jesus.
    – pray asking God to reveal Himself and His son Jesus.
    – pray to challenge God to prove His existence to you.
    – pray 2 to 3 times a day.
    You can also fast. Do no sin. Follow biblical instructions.
    Just after two weeks you will testify.
    Your motive to prove the existence of God matters a lot. Be careful lest you provoc him to anger.
    My God Jehovah lives forever and has always responded to those who look for him faithfully.
    If nothing happens come and tell me that your God does not exist. JESUS IS ALIVE AND LIVES FOREVER. AMEN!

    Galilea
    July 24, 2015 at 12:30 pm
    Reply

    • You only say all that because you learned it from religion.
      People like you are the enemy of African progress, and the sad thing is, that you can’t see it.
      Stop shaming us with this religion of slavers please.

      Simona
      July 25, 2015 at 4:44 am
      Reply

  2. I would like to advise the author of this article to study the Bible very, very carefully without bias and prejudice. He will come to under stand that the Bible is true, and is inpired of Jehovah God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:21)
    True Christians, as much as they may be in this world, are actually not part of this world. Hence they do not take part in worldly activities such as wars, training for wars, strifes, strikes, riots, etc. The mark of true Christians is love. Please read John 13:35. True Christians will never lift a hand against their fellows or any other people. They know no national bounderies, are non racial, non tribal. They do not take part in partisan politics. They worship the true God, Jehovah.
    It is a pity that the writer of the above article thinks that God is imaginary. This is very unfortunate. Where does he imagine the universe and everything in it came frome?
    The author will do well to give himself to studying the Bible with an open and receptive heart. He will learn the truth. He will come to understand that Jehovah God is a person and lives forever in his abode in Heaven. Only fools say that there is no God. (Psalms 14:1)

    Cactus Flower
    July 24, 2015 at 3:53 pm
    Reply

  3. Ba Cactus Flower You have never done what you are advising the author. You only happen to have studied the bible because you were born in a country where Chritianity was the religion introduced by Europeans. You cant therefore have studied the Bible without prejudice.
    It is a reality that there was prejudice all around you as you got born. You found all your neighbours and the socio-political system praising this book and because of these people you found studying this book you decided to follow. Human beings like keeping in step. That is why all of us in a certain area want to behave in a certain common way. You never sat down to question the Bible.
    If I ask you right now have you studied the Koran, the Sutras the Tanaka,the Zohar, etc? You will say you haven’t because of your bias towards the Bible.
    If you want to be objective for you to settle for the Bible you must first study other teachings and weigh them against the Bible. The advice you are giving Igwe is heavy with prejudice yet you cant see this yourself. It is illogical to tell Igwe to go fetch proof from a book he doesnt believe in. The proof must be both outside the Bible and inside not exclusively inside. For you and every African who have become members of this or that religion because foreign masters came with it to your land take Igwe’s advice seriously:Critical evaluation of religious teaching is important for the intellectual emancipation and enlightenment of Africans.

    Amano Mambulwa
    July 24, 2015 at 4:43 pm
    Reply

    • Thank you very for your reaction to my comment. I hope you read all the scriptures that I sited. Please not that I repeatedly said ”True Christians” not just christians. Thanks again for your sentments.

      Cactus Flower
      July 24, 2015 at 6:13 pm
      Reply

  4. Igwe talks about Intellectual emancipation. This is something very very important in a human’s development. Listen to Bob Marley when he sings a song called “Redemption Song”. He says
    “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery none but ourselves can free our minds” WHAT A TRUTH!

    Ba Ntamba Lukuta
    July 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm
    Reply

  5. Catherine
    July 25, 2015 at 10:51 am
    Reply

  6. @ Leo igwe is a pagan. And his followers are pagans. These evil people are being exposed now. Indeed the sons of perdition are being revealed.
    Some of us know God because He has revealed Himself to us. Preachers just cofirm what we know.
    How can you understand if you are not chosen?
    The day will come when you will confess the existence of God.
    Go to TB Joshua or prophet Jeremiah Omoto or Shepard Bushiri of Malawi and ask them the existence of God.
    Stop posting lies and deceiving people, do research by visiting reknown pastors and prophets so that you post the truth.
    Leo igwe is hell bound and wishes to take many on board.
    Find out the truth from those who preach the truth. Go and do what they believe in to experience it and give valid testimony.

    Umwina Kilisitu
    July 25, 2015 at 10:52 am
    Reply

    • Pagans were million time better people than the ones who demean others and call them any and every type of name to sell their religious wares. Christianity cut and paste Pagans festivals, cultures and cherry picked to demonise them and eulogise their sect (religions are sect, dividing forces).
      Read:

      Our traditional faiths in Africa were badmouthed by the invading missionaries from Europe and Middle East, who as Desmond Tutu rightly said, took our land and gave bible in our hands. Our traditional faiths were as relevant, good and with deficiencies as were and are the religions of the Middle East, divisive, segregative and exclusive. To appreciate the freedom of evaluating the existing theories, critical analysis and improving upon them, one shall know that one does not have to be bogged down to be a member of an exclusive club (religion) which he cannot leave without repercussions- social, political and economic. Religion make one limited in thinking and choice. One cannot question and change the dogmas, rituals and beliefs as per the demand of the time and space. One either believes in Jesus or Mohammed or Moses as the ultimate Messiah or Saviour or he is not a part of that religion; One has to believe in ONE Book as God given, infallible or one is blasphemous; One has to convert others as they are lost, leading a sinful life and will not go to heaven if they do not follow our religion, moral policemen and gatekeepers of heavens, who do not look beyond one’s religion, the good that person does to society, moral upright she behaves, how wonderfully she takes care of her elderly and brings up children with virtuous upbringing, how she works hard at office, defends environment and surroundings, all is immaterial for her to deserve a seat in heaven, just because she is not one of our religion?
      People interested to learn how Religions are violent clubs (at least I am free to join, support and leave any time Man United or Chelsea, but to leave a religious club, oh my Lord, it is war, sacrilege, blasphemous and punishment can be death).
      I read Huffingtonpost.com regularly on religious and social topics and find very interesting articles. One such article that I could easily relate to our traditional beliefs, where one was not forced to believe or practice or join a club to be a part of the village, tribe or clan one lived in.

      ww.huffingtonpost.com/rajiv-malhotra/dharma-religion_b_875314.html

      Catherine
      July 25, 2015 at 11:18 am
      Reply

  7. And a regular website for learning the latest on religion. A learned Jew is speaking hereunder.
    https://www.newsday.com/opinion/columnists/lane-filler/isn-t-it-about-time-for-god-2-0-lane-filler-1.9389438

    Catherine
    July 25, 2015 at 10:53 am
    Reply

  8. Our traditional faiths in Africa were badmouthed by the invading missionaries from Europe and Middle East, who as Desmond Tutu rightly said, took our land and gave bible in our hands. Our traditional faiths were as relevant, good and with deficiencies as were and are the religions of the Middle East, divisive, segregative and exclusive. To appreciate the freedom of evaluating the existing theories, critical analysis and improving upon them, one shall know that one does not have to be bogged down to be a member of an exclusive club (religion) which he cannot leave without repercussions- social, political and economic. Religion make one limited in thinking and choice. One cannot question and change the dogmas, rituals and beliefs as per the demand of the time and space. One either believes in Jesus or Mohammed or Moses as the ultimate Messiah or Saviour or he is not a part of that religion; One has to believe in ONE Book as God given, infallible or one is blasphemous; One has to convert others as they are lost, leading a sinful life and will not go to heaven if they do not follow our religion, moral policemen and gatekeepers of heavens, who do not look beyond one’s religion, the good that person does to society, moral upright she behaves, how wonderfully she takes care of her elderly and brings up children with virtuous upbringing, how she works hard at office, defends environment and surroundings, all is immaterial for her to deserve a seat in heaven, just because she is not one of our religion?
    People interested to learn how Religions are violent clubs (at least I am free to join, support and leave any time Man United or Chelsea, but to leave a religious club, oh my Lord, it is war, sacrilege, blasphemous and punishment can be death).
    I read Huffingtonpost.com regularly on religious and social topics and find very interesting articles. One such article that I could easily relate to our traditional beliefs, where one was not forced to believe or practice or join a club to be a part of the village, tribe or clan one lived in.

    ww.huffingtonpost.com/rajiv-malhotra/dharma-religion_b_875314.html

    Catherine
    July 25, 2015 at 11:09 am
    Reply

  9. Read the following site about Virgin Mary and many before her been immaculately conceived by the Holy Ghost(!).

    https://www.hope-of-israel.org/originsVBmyth.html

    We the people of the book are still waiting for our Messiah, the real Messiah of David’s lineage to come and create a true Kingdom of God.

    Noah
    July 25, 2015 at 6:14 pm
    Reply

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